We used to raise our baby chicks in 'Elliot Coleman' style hoop
coops(recently we built a 26 x 70 foot steel frame greenhaus). They are
twelve feet wide, twenty feet long, with fiberglass hoops supporting the
greenhaus plastic. The ends were laminated wood arches I built with nearly
full size openable doors on each end.
The inside was arranged with two bays of growing tables, one one either side
of a center 'walkthru'. Beneith each bay are isolatable pens that the baby
chucks were raised in. The heat lamps for the chucks served dual purposes of
keeping the animals warm and comfortable and heating the underside of our
germination tables. It worked really swell!
We kept the chucks in their little pens till they started to look crampt,
and then opened up the center walk isle for them. As soon as they started to
get up on the tables where the vegies grew, we shipped them off to our
chicken tractors(about 4-6 weeks).
One can raise about 200 chucks, starting with day olds, in a hoopcoop. We
would get 50 a week and rotate them thru the nursery and finally into the
center isle. As spring progressed we kept adding bedding to the floor and by
the time the everything in the greenhouse was planted outside, the chucks
were of a size to survive nicely in our chicken tractors. The hoopcoop was
then lifted off its site and the bedding forked into a nice compost heap,
wet down, and let heat up.
It cost us about $500.00 to build a hoopcoop and another $150.00 to upgrade
it to a chuck nursery. It only became disgusting about two day a years when
the weather was wet , warm and humid. We never had any disease problems, in
fact everything grew like a budget deficet!
I really like the system as it is not capital intensive and is of perfect
size for our 'scale of opperation'. The hoopcoops themselve are light
enough for chicken tractoring, especially if you have 4 persons around to
spend 10 minutes a day moving them. As the season progesses we salvage
lumber tarps from the local lumber companies and use them for shade cloth to
keep the chuck from premature frying.
A hoopcoop will succcessfully raise out enough transplants to do a 40 or 50
member CSA(Community Supported Agriculture). As with any animal or
greenhouse opperation, someone must tend it daily for temperature control,
water and the like. You dasen't be too late in the morning adjusting things
or plants will droop and chucks will wilt.
We also sprout a lot of grain for our pigs and chickens, but that will have
to wait for another day...off to the farm now!
Prairie Dock Farm
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